More Britons referred to NRM than any other nationality
The number of potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery has risen by 80 per cent in the last two years, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) end of year summary for 2018 published today (March 20) reveals that British citizens made up the largest number of potential victims (1,625) out of 130 nationalities that feature.
The report said that the increase is largely due to an improvement in recorded NRM referrals related to the County Lines crime model of exploiting vulnerable people.
This is the second year running that British citizens have been identified as the most vulnerable, but the figure has almost doubled since 2017.
The number of minors referred has increased 48 per cent.
Albania and Vietnam were identified with the second and third highest number of referrals.
There were six referrals of organ harvesting in 2018, two of which where the location was claimed to be the UK.
The number of referrals in 2017 was 5,145. In 2018 it rose to 6,993, an increase of 36 per cent.
Of these, 52 were reported to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, 228 to Police Scotland, 251 to Welsh forces and the remaining 6,462 to English forces.
The NRM is the framework for identifying victims of trafficking and modern slavery, so that they can receive support. It is also used to collect data and assess threat.
Victims are identified by police, public bodies, and specific non-government organisations, the Home Office and the NCA’s Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit.
The Home Office will become the only authority for dealing with referrals from April 29.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Modern slavery is an abhorrent crime that this government is committed to tackling. Our world-leading Modern Slavery Act has given law enforcement agencies the tools they need to pursue the perpetrators of modern slavery and support victims.
“Since the act became law, the number of live operations tackling modern slavery have greatly increased, as have the number of people referred to the National Referral Mechanism.
“The Government is committed to supporting victims of modern slavery. We are reforming the National Referral Mechanism to improve the support available to victims before, during and after the NRM process.”
NCA Deputy Director Roy McComb said: “The increase is undoubtedly the result of greater awareness, understanding and reporting of modern slavery and that is something to be welcomed.
“However, the more we look the more we find, and it is likely these figures represent only a snapshot of the true scale of slavery and trafficking in the UK.
“Of particular concern is the increase in referrals made for County Lines type exploitation. These are often vulnerable individuals – often children – who are exploited by criminal gangs for the purposes of drug trafficking.
“Our understanding of the threat is much greater than it was a few years ago, and modern slavery remains a high priority for law enforcement, with around 1,500 criminal investigations currently live in the UK.
“But we cannot stop modern slavery alone, we need support and assistance from across the public and private sectors, NGOs and most of all the public themselves.”